Sunday, May 31, 2009

June Opry Notes

As we enter the month of June, let's take a look back through Opry history, as a number of historical and important events in Opry history took place during this month.

First, let's look at the Grand Ole Opry members who are celebrating Opry anniversaries this month:
>Stu Phillips-June 1, 1967(42 years)
>Mike Snider-June 2, 1990(19 years)
>Alan Jackson-June 7, 1991(18 years)
>Lorrie Morgan-June 9, 1984(25 years)
>Mel Tillis-June 9, 2007(2 years)
>Ricky Van Shelton-June 10, 1988(21 years)
>Patty Loveless-June 11, 1988(21 years)
>Terri Clark-June 12, 2004(5 years)
>Connie Smith-June 13, 1965(44 years)
>Riders In The Sky-June 19, 1982(27 years)

One final note on anniversary dates. On June 19, 1999, Pete Fisher began his duties as the General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry. It is hard to believe that he has been in charge for 10 years. A lot of changes, both good and bad, have happened during his time in charge and he has guided the Opry through a very difficult period in its history.

A number of historical and special moments have taken place in June:
>On June 13, 1926, DeFord Bailey, the Opry's first African American member, made his Opry debut. He remained a member until 1941 when he was fired by George D. Hay. Bailey was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and later in his life, he did return to make several guest appearances on the Opry.
>June 12, 1936, Dr. Humphrey Bate died from a heart attack at the age of 61. He was one of the original members of the Grand Ole Opry, and in the opinion of many, should have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame many years ago.
>On June 13, 1936, the Opry relocated to the Dixie Tabernacle, which was located on Fatherland Street in East Nashville. It would remain here for several years.
>June 5, 1937, Pee Wee King & The Golden West Cowboys joined the Opry. They left the Opry a decade later to move to Louisville, Kentucky for television opportunities. At the time, he tried to talk WSM into exploring television, but the WSM management did not immediately jump at it. Pee Wee King was later elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
>On June 5, 1943, the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium, which would remain its home until 1974. It is considered its most famous former home and the Opry returns there for a run of shows each winter.
>June 11, 1949, Hank Williams made his Opry debut. He sang "Lovesick Blues" and was called back for 6 encores.
>June 1, 1957, the Everly Brothers became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They would leave several years later. The Opry management asked them to join in an effort to keep the younger country music fans who were flocking to rock and roll. This was also the period of time when many felt that the future of the Opry was in serious danger.
>June 12, 1965, Tex Ritter joined the Grand Ole Opry. He would remain as one of its most popular and loyal members until his death.
>On June 30, 1970, ground was broken in Nashville for Opryland.
>June 4, 1974, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton performed together as an official duo for the last time at the Opry. They would eventually put aside their differences and perform together again, including several duets at the Opry.
>June 3, 1984, the Ryman Auditorium reopened with a broadcast of "Praire Home Companion", hosted by Garrison Keillor.
>On June 17, 2000, the Opry began being broadcast on the internet.

Hope everyone enjoys this look back into the history of the Opry.


  1. Two interesting observations.

    The Opry House (which I sometimes still call the "new" Opry House)is now a longer running home for the Opry than the Ryman.

    Garrison Keillor was a tremendous fan and the Opry was his inspiration for Prairie Home Companion.

  2. I'll echo R.W. and add that Keillor went to the Opry's final Ryman and first "new" Opry House performances, and that was partly what got him to create his show.

    Great bit of history there. Thanks. I was thinking about Lorrie's induction and how everybody was standing there bawling when she sang "Candy Kisses." Later, she was on with Ralph Emery and she said, "Uncle Bill inducted me and Uncle Jimmy (Newman) gave me the flowers."

  3. I just find it hard to believe that Lorrie has been a member of the Opry for 25 years. Just shows how time flys. I also remember Keillor talking about the Opry and how he used to listen to it all the time. He said that when he finally made it to Nashville and saw the Opry in person, it was the first time he had heard the show without static from a radio. He joked that he thought that the static was part of the show.